It’s the start of the new football season, and that only means one thing. Fantasy League!
It was a year of ups and downs in last year’s Premier League season, with some surprises along the way, and with thousands of people flooding to join the UNILAD Fantasy League, it made the season far more interesting.
Eventually, Josh Norrie was crowned champion, and winner of our £100 prize including the bragging rights that followed. Can you be this year’s champ? Join our league ahead of the weekend and find out! (League code: 2129070-478921)
We asked Josh for some advice on smashing fantasy football and how he got so good.
The university postgraduate student has done pretty well on the fantasy football scene over the past couple of years, with notable winnings including 2nd place in the Mirror Fantasy Football Free League, 1st place in the MLS Montreal Impact Fans League, 25th place in the Sky game overall, 71st place in the Daily Mail overall and 18th place out of over 3 million people in the official FPL game last season.
He has a fair accolades, but is there actually a technique to it? Well, not entirely, but in the following guide he has compiled a summary of the best fantasy football picks in the FPL game from each team, and with this you’ll be able to pick a strong side and find those budget gems to hopefully gain yourself the bragging rights in your mini leagues!
But before you check the guide, make sure you follow him on Twitter, where he will be providing regular articles including player transfer tips.
Josh’s 2015 Guide:
Mertesacker (5.5), Bellerin (5.5) & Koscielny (6)
Walcott (9), Cazorla, Ramsey & Ozil (8.5)
You’ll notice the exclusion of Alexis Sanchez, due to a lack of match fitness, Wenger mentioned that he will not be ready for the beginning of the season. Walcott and Giroud are risky but explosive picks, Theo will probably start though may be subbed off after 60 minutes and vice versa. The rest of the attacking force comes down to penalties (Cazorla), goals (Ramsey) and assists (Ozil). At the back, Bellerin has attacking returns and value in his locker with the looming threat of Debuchy. Laurent Koscielny is a sure-fire starter though and loves a bonus point or three.
Bacuna (5) & Richards (4.5)
Sinclair (5) & Grealish (5.5)
Ayew & Gestede (6)
Leandro Bacuna has a great attacking record for Villa and may be playing right-mid though those looking for a cheaper way into Sherwood’s backline may opt for captain Micah Richards. Sinclair managed a hat trick in a recent pre-season friendly and looks to be the preferred option as a fantasy asset over Grealish for the time being. The former Swans and Man City winger may not be nailed on.
Cook, Mings & Francis (4.5)
Ritchie (6) & Surman (4.5)
Wilson (5.5) & Gradle
Take your pick from the Cherrie’s rear-guard, all come with an attacking threat. Ritchie managed an incredible 15 goals and 17 assists in the championship last season and could be a bargain if he can make the transition into the top tier. Surman is budget friendly bench fodder who will play. Wilson could be a fantastic value pick after his performances in the lower league last year.
Ivanovic, Terry (7) & Azpilicueta (6)
Hazard (11.5) & Fabregas (9)
Jose’s defence is the most expensive in the game with Chelsea managing the most clean sheets last season and conceding the least number of goals. Ivan and Terry offer huge attacking threat but those looking for an alternative route may opt for Azpi whose stealer of minutes last year; Filipe Luis, has now moved back to Athletico. Hazard is one of the first names on most FPL player’s team sheets, at a whopping 11.5 million he is the second most expensive player in the game. Cesc tends to start off his seasons vibrantly before tapering off in the latter half, he is a cheaper way into the Blue’s attacking returns. Diego Costa is an injury doubt, though he loves to score against the Swans (who Chelsea have in Gameweek 1 at the Bridge) and managed 20 goals last year despite his canny ability to pick up cards and injuries.
Bolasie, Cabaye (6.5) & Puncheon (6)
Pardew’s Eagles have a plethora of midfielders to choose from. Cabaye is an old fantasy favourite who may be on the majority of set pieces possibly sharing with Puncheon who is a proven cheap fantasy asset. Bolasie looks to be improving each year, out of the three I’d opt for him until there is more light shed on the set piece situation at Selhurst Park.
Jagielka (5.5), Coleman (6) & Baines (6.5)
Delofeu (6.5) & Mirallas (7)
Leighton Baines, formerly fantasy gold is now only 6.5 mainly due to Everton’s leakier defence and his set piece duties being stolen from him by Lukaku and Mirallas. Coleman or “Goalman” likes to get forward, whilst Phil Jagielka is the most budget friendly despite being the highest scoring Everton defender last season with 139 points, 4 goals and an impressive 21 bonus points. We need to see how Martinez sets out his midfield first before declaring the favoured player from that pool of players. Up front Lukaku has no competition, he is on penalties and he has Watford at home for the first game of the season. The drawback? He might be injured! The press conference from Martinez on Friday will hopefully give us a better idea of how Romelu is doing. It should be noted that despite playing 2800+ minutes last year he only managed a lacklustre 10 goals.
Morgan & Huth (4.5)
Ulloa & Vardy (6)
The Tinkerman; Claudio Ranieri, enters the fray once again! For any that aren’t aware, he is the former manager of Chelsea, known for his rotation policy and inability to keep a consistent team sheet. This makes the Foxes a little bit of a minefield though there is still a lot of value to be had. Morgan and Huth both carry fantastic aerial threats from set pieces and are very cheap. Mahrez should start most games and is certainly the pick of their midfielders. Up top Ulloa and Luke Vardy look to be set to start the campaign, new signing Okazaki poses some threat to their minutes.
Skrtel, Clyne (5.5) & Gomez (4.5)
Henderson & Milner (7)
Brendan Rodger’s technicians have been priced kindly. Many of you will note the exclusion of Firmino and Coutinho from my picks. This is due to their overpricing and Firmino’s lack of PL experience. To add to this Hendo and Milner are set to share set pieces with Milner impressing in the pre-season and Henderson possibly on penalties. The man who may take those spot kick duties away from him is the former Villa striker Christian Benteke. A solid FPL pick, Benteke scores goals and lots of them. My only worry with him is if Rodger’s style of play suits him and how Sturridge’s eventual return will affect his own returns. At the back Gomez is a risky pick at 4.5 with Moreno breathing down his neck. Skrtel is who I would opt for with security of starts and an aerial threat.
Kolarov (5.5) & Kompany (6)
Silva (10), Sterling (9) & Toure (8.5)
Kolarov or “Lolarov” as he is known in the fantasy football community can prove incredible or excruciating to own. When he has a regular run in the side he can score huge points for your side, the problem is his rotation with Clichy, and I’d avoid him for now until we see who Pellegrini favours this year. In midfield there’s a tremendous amount of options for Man City. Sterling has been performing well in the pre-season and may play up top while Aguero is getting back to match fitness. Toure is cheaper this time round at just 8.5. Silva is always a great pick though quite pricey at 10. Bony should play in the lone striker rule while Aguero is out, he’s certainly a very risky short term pick as there’s the off chance Sergio could surprise everyone and start or more likely Raheem move into the most advance position of Pellegrini’s favoured 4231.
Jones, Shaw (5.5) & Smalling (6)
Mata & Depay (8.5)
It’s difficult to choose a United defender with the number of injuries flying round under LVG. The Dutchman mentioned that Darmian may just be backup for Valencia for now whilst Rojo provides competition at CB and LB. In midfield new boy Depay may have some set pieces duties and comes with a close to 6 shots per game ratio from his time in the Eredivisie. It’s difficult to see him replicate that in the PL and SPG doesn’t always mean a great deal (see Mario Balotelli last season). Rooney will be playing up front, he’s a proven PL striker and a strong captaincy candidate.
Janmaat (5) & Collocini (4.5)
De Jong (6.5) & Wijnaldum (7)
Mitrovic & Cisse (6.5)
I’d be weary of the Magpie’s assets for now, they have poor fixtures and a terrible end to the season last year. If I had to recommend any then I’d look at the two midfielders and maybe Cisse though there’s better value to be had elsewhere at least for now. For any of you cheapskates out there looking for someone to capitulate on their bench there is Steven Taylor (at 4). There’s a very slim chance he might start for the Toon. Probably not though after their recent defensive acquisitions. My advice, your lowest priced defender should be 4.5 not 4.0 as there are no 4.0 reliable starters available thus far this season.
Martin & Bassong (4.5)
Johnson (5.5) & Mulumbu (4.5)
The Norwich defence is cheap and luckily for the Canaries there is no Luis Suarez to decimate them this time round. Bassong and Russel Martin look assured starters. Mulumbu, though currently injured, is probably the best 4.5 option in terms of attacking threat with a decent pre-season and history of scoring 7 in one campaign (I’d expect no more than half that this time round though). Up top Cameron Jerome has a great deal to prove having flopped in the PL many times before, the Norwich fans and those who are looking for the best option at the 5 range will be hoping he can build on his impressive Championship goal record last year.
Cedric (5), Fonte, Bertrand & Caulker (5.5)
Mane (8), Wanyama (4.5) & Tadic (7)
The Saints have a plethora of FPL players. At the back Cedric is the cheapest though Fonte and Bertrand are more assured, proven starters. Caulker is the flair pick, if he starts, he is the one with the biggest goal threat. Mane proved fantastic value last year and thus seen a massive price hike to the lofty height of the 8 bracket, for those unable to stretch that far there is Dusan “on-all-set-pieces” Tadic. Though it should be noted he does not take all of them when Stephen Davis or JWP (James Ward-Prowse) are on the pitch. Wanyama is the standard bench midfielder pick, he’ll play every week at St Mary’s. Pelle is one to watch up front, though he ended last season on a lengthy dry spell, he may be the benefactor of some decent opening fixtures for the Saints.
Walters, Adam & Arnautovic (6)
Diouf (6.5) & Bojan (5.5)
Mark Hughes defence is a difficult one to pick a solid option from. Talisman Shawcross is injured, whilst Phil Bardsley and Glen Johnson battle it out for the RB berth. Erik Pieters should be nailed on at LB, the safe choice. There’s a number of different attacking options for the Potters; Adam is fantasy gold when he starts consistently, Arnautovic loves an assist whilst Jon Walters provides a steady stream of returns at a decent price. The strikers hold some decent value too, Bojan is cheap at 5.5. Diouf’s starting berth may be under threat from new signing Joselu.
Van Aahnholt (5) & Coates (4.5)
The Black Cats have been strong defensively under Advocaat. PVA (van Aahnholt) looks to be the pick of the bunch with his forward raids down the left. Coates is the cheaper option. Kaboul or O’Shea should battle it out for the remaining spot whilst Matthews might be the RB this season. Lens could prove to be a bargain but is unproven at this level. Defoe is cheap and on penalties though the Stadium of Light side aren’t known for their attacking prowess.
Sigurdsson (7.5) & Ki (5.5)
Gary Monk’s side always provide an array of cheap fantasy assets. Ashley Williams is certainly the defender to have from the Swans though Chelsea away in their first game is hardly promising. Siggy is a little bit of a fantasy folk hero, he’s reliable and will get you goals and assists. Ki managed a remarkable 8 goals last season, at 5.5 he’s a savvy pick. Gomis comes in at a relatively expensive 7 though should return goals for the investment.
Eriksen (8.5), Chadli (7) & Bentaleb (4.5)
Villas Boas’ side were suspect defensively last season, this has led to new signing Toby Alderweireld’s pricing of only 5. The midfield boasts Nacer Chadli, a great value option whilst Eriksen is one of the main men at White Hart Lane, though expensive is on most set pieces. Harry Kane. 21 goals, 7 assists in the last campaign. Little else is needed to be said. The negatives? He, like Pelle, ended the season with diminishing attacking returns. Again like Pelle, teams may have figured out his play style or simply opt to focus on nullifying Kane.
Abdi (5) & Behrami (4.5)
The Hornet’s survival rests in the hands of centre forward Troy Deeney, a goal machine in the Championship. If he can transfer this to the PL then he will be a steal at 5.5 and on penalties. There’s few other stand outs for the time being at Vicarage Road, Behrami and Anya are 4.5 bench fodder. Prodl is the best defender of the bunch in terms of FPL anyway.
Brunt (5.5) & Fletcher (4.5)
Berahino (6.5) & Lambert (6)
The Baggies under Pulis have a fantastic defensive record. “The Wall of Pulis.” Potential buyers may be weary of their opening schedule though which pits them against Chelsea and Man City in their opening 3 games. Brunt will give you a steady stream of assists with his set piece duties. Darren Fletcher will play every week and is a canny acquisition for your 4.5 bench spot (his attacking returns are notoriously not so sweet however). The forward lines of the Hawthorns side hold Berahino and new boy Rickie Lambert, two players who know where the goal is.
Cresswell (5.5) & Jenkinson (5)
Cresswell was one of the stand out defenders last season in the FPL and offers a fantastic attacking threat down the left flank. Jenko is cheaper at 5 though it should be noted that he will be ineligible to play against parent club Arsenal in the opening Gameweek. Dimitri Payet looks set to be hogging most of the set pieces and has looked dangerous in the recent Europa League qualifiers for the Hammers. Diafra Sakho is a sure-fire starter for Bilic’s side and will be for at least another 3 months after news of Enner Valencia’s injury.
Remember, don’t forget to join our personal league ahead of Saturday for a chance to win £100 and this year’s bragging rights. We will be officially announcing the winner on our social platforms when the season comes to an end.
The official league code, if needed, is 2129070-478921.